NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are checking surveillance cameras to see if they can identify who painted swastikas on two libraries and a synagogue in Queens.
The vandalism happened sometime Thursday at the East Elmhurst Library, the Jackson Heights Library and the Congregation Tifereth Israel in Corona.
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports: Leaders Stand Together Against Hate
On Friday afternoon, the swastikas were cleaned from the libraries and covered up at the synagogue.
In all, four were found on the walls and windows of one of the libraries.
“I just couldn’t believe it because it happened a second time in the week. It happened earlier in the week, Monday,” Jackson Heights Library custodian Charles Zussman told CBS 2′s Emily Smith.
This isn’t the first time this type of vandalism has happened in the area. A similar incident happened in July.
“We’ve had swastikas painted on houses of worship in Flushing and in Bayside and we fought it,” State Sen. Toby Stavisky said. “The perpetrators were arrested. There were tips that led to arrest and convictions.”
Councilman Daniel Dromm and other elected officials held a rally Friday at the Jackson Heights Library against hate and bias crimes.
“Jackson Heights is a beautiful, wonderful, tolerant, accepting community,” Dromm said. “What happened here…is something that we in Jackson Heights and the rest of the people in the city of New York deplore.
“We want to know who did this. We want them arrested captured and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This is a wonderful community,” Queens Borough President Helen Marshall added. “It is a community where people of all different nationalities do so much together — you can’t do anything here that’s just only one-sided. So, whoever did this, they’re not in connection, they’re not in connection with any of us.”
Despite this part of Queens being an area with a lot of diversity, resident David Kraft said he’s not surprised to see swastikas, but that it hurts.
“I’m an 87-year-old vet of World War II and I’m Jewish. It just leaves me speechless, outraged,” Kraft told CBS 2′s Smith.
According to a new Anti-Defamation League poll, anti-Semitism is on the rise.
In 2005, 14 percent of Americans admitted to having anti-Semitic views. The numbers dipped in 2009 to 12 percent, but are at 15 percent today. That’s roughly 35 million adults polled saying they hold anti-Jewish views.
“I get the feeling that many people end up thinking the Holocaust ended too soon, and I really don’t know what else I can say,” Kraft said.
Police are investigating the incidents as hate crimes. If prosecuted, the perpetrator faces up to 10 years behind bars.
A $2,500 reward has been posted for information leading to an arrest.
Anyone with information should call police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.